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Pallet Chief – New Nailing Machinery Developments for Block Pallets and Unique Applications
Pallet Chief, an established manufacturer of pallet nailing machines, has released its new block pallet nailing system, including its new mat nailing machine. Pallet Chief is also focusing on specialty nailing systems to satisfy unique nailing needs.

By Dr. Ed Brindley
Date Posted: 10/1/2010

Fayetteville, Alabama—Twenty years ago Pallet Chief Manufacturing went into business manufacturing nailing systems for nailing wooden packaging products, in particular wooden pallets. In the 1980s, shiners had become such a problem for Barry Landers in his pallet manufacturing company that he was faced with looking for a machine that would eliminate shiners and reduce labor costs. He found that most nailing systems available just did not suit his needs. They were either very expensive, or too slow, or lacked versatility.

            Research led Barry to the Pallet Chief nailer concept that has become known worldwide. Today over 900 Pallet Chief systems have been sold, with stringer pallet nailing capabilities ranging from one pallet every two minutes to two pallets per minute. Pallet Chief has developed a reputation for producing low cost pallet assembly systems. Their simplicity keeps maintenance problems to a minimum, and when parts are needed they are usually available from a local parts house. Required maintenance is limited to simple adjustments and service to the pneumatic nailing tools which is often done by supplier representatives.

            Pallet Chief Machinery fits into a special niche in the marketplace by meeting the needs of pallet builders from the initial startup customer all the way to the larger pallet company that wants to achieve higher production with minimum maintenance and fewer man-hours. The simplicity of Pallet Chief equipment allows anybody to learn to operate it in a very short time without special educational requirements. This simplicity allows Pallet Chief Manufacturing to distribute equipment around the world without set-up or operation complications which could be magnified by language barriers.

             Barry says, “With over 30 years of experience in business and manufacturing, from residential construction and design, to building wooden pallets, to designing and manufacturing pallet nailing and stacking systems, I am confident that the simplicity and durability of the Pallet Chief line will enhance production and quality for any pallet operation.” Pallet Chief has machines in 48 states and around the world. This includes Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Tahiti, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Trinidad, Malaysia, Brazil, Jamaica, Australia and Israel. Barry continued, “We are proud that there are ten Pallet Chief II machines on U.S. military bases in Iraq.”

            The Pallet Chief line of nailing machines evolved into four standard models from the Pallet Chief I entry level nailing machine to the faster manual Pallet Chief II, to the automatic Pallet Chief III and Pallet Chief IV nailing systems. The Pallet Chief II has been the #1 seller because of its simplicity, versatility and price. Both the Pallet Chief III and Pallet Chief IV are higher production automatic machines for minimal operator fatigue.

            The Pallet Chief nailing systems need only 110 volts and compressed air to operate. They have no hydraulics and require no computers. You might say that simplicity is the name of the game at Pallet Chief. Reduced operator fatigue when compared to hand nailing and more production with less manpower are promoted as desirable Pallet Chief features. The systems use large rolls of 3000 collated nails and mounted hand nailing tools. They require no expensive nail chucks and computers. Pallet Chief still points to accurate nail placement with no shiners as one of its biggest benefits. Changeovers are quick and easy.

            The nailing systems use a nailing gantry with mounted pneumatic tools. The Pallet Chief IV is a two-gantry nailing machine that can hold up to eight nailing tools. The first gantry nails the bottom deck boards. The machine automatically advances the partly-assembled pallet and flips it to the second station so that the top deck boards can be positioned. Nail placement is guided by a mechanical method through the use of a proximity switch. The gantry never stops; it nails on the fly. Completed pallets are stacked on a Pallet Chief stacker. The standard Pallet Chief IV can build pallets ranging from 34x34 to 48x48 at the rate of about two pallets a minute.

            Videos of the machines and more information about Pallet Chief’s machinery are available on its web site www.palletchief.com.

            Barry Landers owns the company, his brother Burl works in both management and sales. Gail Landers Ezekiel manages the office. Other key employees include Mike Finch, production foreman, Jorge Soto, R&D Shop Foreman, Raushana Franklin, sales and Cary Brown, sales.

            Barry manages the R&D shop and will run the new shop being built for the Pallet Chief’s new block pallet systems, skid machines, and deck mat machines. Burl manages the main shop where they build the Pallet Chief I, II, III, and IV models.


Nailing Block Pallets

            Pallet manufacturers in North America are aware of the stir that block pallets have made. When CHEP moved from its stringer pallet design to today’s perimeter base block pallet, the grocery industry in North America was introduced to the benefits of block pallets. Ever since then, speculation that block pallets are going to become more popular has been common place. Companies, such as Costco, have indicated that they want to switch exclusively to block pallets; Costco plans to transition to block pallets in January 2011.

            Thus, many pallet companies are showing interest in machinery to manufacture block pallets with more mechanization and efficiency. With the exception of CHEP’s block pallet, which is made by only a few companies using high speed automatic block pallet nailing systems, most of the block pallet talk has been speculation about the future. From what we hear, there has not been a mass exodus yet by pallet using companies from their stringer pallet designs toward block pallets.

            Many pallet companies manufacture some block pallets, often in fairly small quantities for customers that have been using them for a long time. The major change has been in companies that want to automate their existing block pallet construction. Block pallets made by hand are very labor intensive when compared to most stringer pallets. The need to increase manufacturing efficiency and use less labor to reduce dependency on the labor market has driven a growing number of pallet companies to examine automated block pallet machinery. Interest in block pallet nailing often runs through an on-again, off-again pattern, but many pallet companies believe that tomorrow’s interest in block pallets will probably develop further.

            Pallet Chief introduced its first block pallet nailing system at the recent Richmond Show in May. This Pallet Chief block nailing system builds the more common Euro-style block pallets.

            The first Pallet Chief block pallet system sold went to the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Ken. It was ordered in January and delivered in March. The Blue Grass box and crate shop has made ammunition block pallets for a long time for its own needs; in addition it manufactures block pallets for several ammunition depots in adjacent states such as Tennessee and Ohio. The army wanted to take some labor out of its pallet manufacturing equation. Its focus is on efficiency and labor reduction.

            Pallet Chief now has its new block pallet manufacturing system available on the market. Barry believes that as manufacturing efficiency improves the block pallet demand picture will improve. Many customers would prefer block pallets if their cost comes down.

            Pallet Chief’s block pallet nailing system uses 3000-nail coils to feed its pneumatic nailers. It has a staggered nailing pattern which is typically required for block pallets.

            The new Pallet Chief deck-mat nailer builds the deck mat or top component of a block pallet. This machine uses a staggered nailing pattern to nail together the top deck boards and flat stringer boards to form a top pallet mat. These mats can then be nailed to the bottom block stringers to complete a Euro-style block pallet. This nailing can be done by hand or by using Pallet Chief’s new block pallet nailing system.

            Some of the deck-mat nailer standard features and benefits are: building mats up to 48x48 inches, quick adjustment feature, staggered nailing pattern, deck board feeder, nailer and deluxe stacking system that can stack up to 50 mats high, runs off 110 volts of electricity and compressed air, user friendly, low maintenance cost, and the potential to upgrade to a complete Pallet Chief block pallet system.

            The Pallet Chief block pallet system can build Euro style block pallets from 36x30” to 48x48”. The new staggered nailing feature is standard and the new quick adjustment feature reduces change-over time by more than 50%. Every step in the process is automated; no manual handling of a pallet is required. This new system can be built to accommodate most styles of block pallets. A nester-stacker/flipper combination for non-perimeter base pallets is available, along with the new nail clincher. The Pallet Chief block pallet nailing system is designed to start at about $170,000.

            Pallet Chief advertises that its block pallet nailing system will assemble two block pallets a minute, but Barry says its actual time is better than that. It only requires three operators.

            The block pallet system starts out with a leg/runner or block/runner nailer which nails the blocks to the bottom runner boards. An operator feeds the assembled block/runners into the three runner feeders.

            On the deck mat nailing machine, an operator places the stringer boards and feeds boards into a deck board dispenser. As the gantry advances, decking is automatically fed onto the stringer boards during the nailing process. A finished deck mat is automatically transferred to the second nailing machine where it is nailed to three block/runners.

            After assembly is complete, the pallet flipper and nester stacker are the keys to nesting and stacking the finished pallets. The flipper flips every other pallet, offsetting as needed to allow every other pallet to nest into the previous pallet in the stacker. The deluxe Pallet Chief stacker discharges completed stacks of pallets on the accumulating conveyor.

            Pallet Chief has a perimeter based block pallet option if needed.


Specialty Nailing Systems

            In addition to the established line of Pallet Chief machinery and its recent nailing developments for block pallets, Barry Landers is proud to point out his interest in specialty nailing systems. Barry likes the challenge associated with developing nailing systems that fit unique applications. It allows him to incorporate his experience with pallet nailers and adjust it to help people who previously had to hand nail unique products.

            Recently Pallet Chief developed a couple of new nailing systems for two Texas companies. Each of these machines is a unique, one-of-a-kind wooden product nailing system. One machine, located in Houston, Texas, nails plywood squares together to make cushions used for driving pilings. Pilings are often driven deep into the ground to support major structures, such as bridges, especially deep into the ocean floor. Wooden pads cushion this pile driving process. The Houston company uses its custom designed Pallet Chief nailing machine as one of its manufacturing steps for making piling pads. It ships piling pads to customers that use them in their pile driving operations.

            Barry designed a second specialty nailing system for a company in Burkburnett, Texas that makes shipping crates for plate glass. This company, located outside of Wichita Falls in oil country, makes troughs to encase its glass. The Pallet Chief machine nails end blocks into the troughs.

            Any reader who wants to know more about the established line of Pallet Chief nailers, including its new block pallet system, or a possible solution for a unique nailing requirement, should call Pallet Chief at 800/339-2925. You can see Pallet Chief’s videos on its website www.palletchief.com.

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